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National Geographic special edition on Katrina to hit newsstands this week  
Monday, September 19, 2005 | by Rob Galbraith

It started as a desire on the part of National Geographic staff to contribute directly to the Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery effort. The result is a special edition on the devastating hurricane, with profits from its sale going towards the rebuilding of the educational infrastructure for children in the affected areas.

"The idea of the media giving back, that's where we started. Then, we made some phone calls," says Ken Geiger, National Geographic Senior Editor, Technology/Illustrations as he describes how the special edition began to take shape. Answering those calls were The Times-Picayune, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Austin American-Statesman, Associated Press, Getty Images, Agence France-Presse and Knight Ridder/Tribune. "It was pretty amazing: they all said 'we want to be involved too.'" International Paper and QuadGraphics, National Geographic's primary paper supplier and printer, respectively, also contributed to the project (the special edition was printed at one of Quadgraphics' Wisconsin facilities).

National Geographic's Hurricane Katrina special edition is comprised of some of the most telling pictures produced by photographers on assignment for these media outlets, as well as shooters working for the Geographic (including Tyrone Turner); the photos, with detailed captions, are spread over 102 ad-free pages.

Hurricane Katrina special edition (Cover photo by Matt Rourke, Austin American-Statesman)

At 8 3/4 x 11 inches, it's somewhat larger than the monthly magazine and is stitched rather than perfect-bound (the flat-edged binding that is part of National Geographic's signature look). In addition to photographs there are Geographic-style articles and graphics on hurricanes, floodwalls and more. The advance peek we've had at some of the content suggests it should be a compelling package.

The edition itself also represents the first time in the 117-year history of the organization that a special edition has been produced, printed and distributed so soon after an event.

"Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29th. We began work on it August 31st or September 1st and it was put to bed on September 10th," says Geiger, who came to National Geographic earlier this year from The Dallas Morning News. "They've never tried to do anything like that before."

The Hurricane Katrina special edition will be available where magazines are sold in the U.S. and Canada beginning this week, including at most newsstands and bookstores. The original plan, says Geiger, was to print 350,000 copies. Feedback from National Geographic's network of distributors about anticipated demand, however, saw the initial run bumped up to 450,000. The cover price is US$4.95 (CDN$6.95 in Canada), with profits from the sale of the special issue to be disbursed by the National Geographic Society in support of the re-establishment of children's education in areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.


 A Look Inside

Below is a sampling of pages from National Geographic's special edition on Hurricane Katrina, reproduced with their permission.

Running for Shelter
Photo by Dave Martin, Associated Press

End of the Road
Photo by Ben Sklar, Associated Press

Daily Horrors
Photo by James Nielsen, Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Swamped City
Photo by Smiley N. Pool, Dallas Morning News

Anywhere But Here
Photo by Michael Ainsworth, Dallas Morning News

Highway to Survival
Photo by Dave Martin, Associated Press

Lost - and Found
Photo by Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Patchwork Solution
Photo by Smiley N. Pool, Dallas Morning News

Revision History
 Added numerous links (September 20, 2005)

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